Band To Watch

Band To Watch: Lansing-Dreiden

I’ve been obsessed with this song lately, and it makes me regret not checking out L-D sooner. About time indie rock got a bright injection of new romanticism. (What can I say, I’m a child of the ’80s.)

Lansing-Dreiden – “A Line You Can Cross” (MP3 Link Expired)

Fantastic album, though “Line” is not super representative of the anonymous collective’s Dividing Island, which is pretty schizophrenic. But don’t take my word for it, read the book! Oh wait, sorry … channeling Reading Rainbow there; read this blurb from Aquarius instead (it’s their record of the week too). I’m printing the whole thing ’cause they’re always so enthusiastic.

LANSING-DREIDEN The Dividing Island (Kemado)
At first we weren’t sure what to make of this band, with their awkward name, their super spare black and white artwork, their well crafted mystery, a seemingly complete lack of any sort of pertinent information, no photos, no real liner notes, no mention of individual band members. All very alluring most certainly. We had heard them described as “dreamy space rock… with a psychedelic metal twist” which definitely sounds good. And as some sort of heavy metal / new wave hybrid, which as good as -that- sounds, it most definitely seems like something that would work better in theory than in practice. In actuality, Lansing-Dreiden are neither of those, and end up being way more interesting than any of that would have led us to believe.
Lansing-Dreiden are not just a band either, no, they’re a sort of arts collective: musicians, sculptors, artists, writers, film makers, replete with the requisite gallery showings, Artforum writeups, film premiers and rock shows. The lines between each of these disciplines are so blurry they might as well not exist. Their vibe, both visually and sonically is warm and washed out, a gauzy soft focus shapshot of pop culture past, the sound on The Dividing Island is both dizzyingly bizarre and dreamily overwhelming, a pastiche of all sorts of disparate pop elements, loads of instantly recognizable hooks, sweet harmony vocals, squiggly synths, horns, soft whispery crooning, bi arena rock drums, jangling guitars, huge sheets of fuzzy reverb, hand claps, cheesy electronic drums, It’s almost like it’s 1985 and we’re watching MTV in some alternate universe. This is definitely some sort of (old) new wave, no trace of metal to be found (well mostly, more on that in a minute), no space rock really either, although there is plenty of spaced out trippiness. But even with bits of spaciness, and some space rock swirl here and there, that stuff is just window dressing for L-D’s passion, which seems to be cracked eighties pop. Lansing-Dreiden is some sort of weird musical time machine, skipping lazily from 1982 to 1985 to 1989 and back again. Where Ariel Pink took seventies AM radio, and turned it into his own disheveled, cracked demented pop vision, Lansing-Dreiden instead take eighties FM radio and classic eighties MTV and gives them their own warm and warped, precious and polished spin. Imagine a hip NY art rock band channeling everything you loved and loathed about ABC, Style Council, Talk Talk, Spandau Ballet, the Fixx, Kajagoogoo, Thompson Twins, Culture Club, Fun Boy Three, Naked Eyes, Psychedelic Furs, The Call, Modern English, etc. There are some moments where the band dips its toes into the more rollicking contemporary NY new wave redux sound of bands like Interpol and the Strokes, and there are stretches of moody near ambient post rock, but for the most part this is a dead ringer for some lost eighties ‘classic’. Mix tapes, John Cusack, Say Anything, Breakfast Club, it’s like our teenage years revisited, albeit with a slightly more twisted and sinister bent.
There may seemingly be nary a trace of any metal on The Dividing Island, but best stick around for the final track, metallically titled “Dethroning The Optimyth”, quite possibly the greatest (only) song ever to mix eighties MTV pop and crushing death metal! As much as we dig the rest of the record, we almost wish the whole record sounded like “Dethroning The Optimyth”, although to be totally honest, the thought of a whole album of eighties pop death metal is almost too much to bear! Pounding double bass drumming, and chugging downtuned riffs collide with soft sweetly swoony pop, soaring synthesizers, airy breathless vocals, like laying on your bed, beneath your Kiss and Slayer posters, listening to your favorite metal record while your sister is in the next room BLASTING the soundtrack to the Breakfast Club through your thin walls. SO weird but SO COOL!

If you like it I’ll post another track that’s less swoon, more metal.

UPDATE: Oooh, there is an awesome video for the tune: MOV | WMV

Album’s available at Amazon or wherever fine discs are sold.